The Hunger Emergency

I hit up Kickboxing this morning. I la-la-love KB, but I don’t like it when the instructor just flows through class assuming everyone knows the combinations. I don’t go to this class weekly and don’t have them memorized. If you’d just run through it ONCE I would catch on. Promise.

Maybe it’s the cheerleader in me, but I hate not getting all the moves right. Plus it brings down my heart rate if I have to stand there and figure it out before jumping in. Just sayin’.CHEER-HATS-400x266After KB I ran a very important errand for new running capris. I considered getting something new for Fitbloggin’, but then I realized “Nah, running stuff is totally more important”. Profound, right?

By the time I got home it was almost noon and I was HUNGRY. I burst into the kitchen pushing women and children aside (what are random people doing in my kitchen anyways?) and grabbed a baby sandwich few handfuls of cashews. baby sandwich(source)

Then, I heated up leftovers from meals past…IMG_0867 (800x533)The thing is, I was not starving like the true definition of the word.

I was hungry. It wasn’t an emergency, but I treated it like one. My binge/restrict past still has a little part of me in emergency mode when I’m hungry (thus the reason I can’t truly go on a ‘diet’). When I get hungry I get crazy and I’m totally blaming it on all those years of nothing but a South Beach Bar after a 6 miler followed by a strict 300 calorie lunch.

But, I don’t feed myself like that anymore. Now I eat full meals and healthy fat and fro-yo and anything else I want. I don’t need to grab the first food I see when I’m hungry.

Hunger is not an emergency.

Yes, it’s unpleasant. Deal with it. Prepare some good food, but don’t attack the kitchen like you just came back from Survivor after making it to the final 3. Survivor: Redemption Island(source)

Does anyone else have this problem?

I find that if I’m the slightest bit hungry I will seek out food like a crazy person. I don’t stop and think, “hey I’m hungry – hmmm, what should I eat?” <- in the time it took to read that I’d already eaten 3 bowls of cereal, 64 crackers and a granola bar.


  1. says

    I am a disaster when I am too hungry. I am the same way, it’s like some kind of 4 alarm fire when I feel like I am starving. I am also a million times more likely to either over eat or make poor choices (or both!). I need to pay more attention to my body sometimes.

  2. Amanda says

    I am the same way – I actually get anxious when I’m hungry because I feel like I’m going to make bad decisions and overeat. I usually have a snack onhand to try to avoid situations like that!

  3. says

    YES I do the exact same thing! I never, ever allow myself to get very hungry because I get low blood sugar quickly and my brain panics a little – it’s due to the ED days or starving! Like a rebound effect. It’s infuriating at times..but meh. I’m learning to deal with it too – today, I got peckish before lunch (instead of eating when I’m still full) and I didn’t go into rampant-must-eat-now mode. It was nice!

  4. says

    I definitely have that problem! And I snarf everything down so fast that I don’t realize that I’ve satisfied the need to eat until it’s too late. Then I feel like a cow. Still trying to learn how to sense when I’m hungry before it’s too late and I turn into The Hulk (big and green and ripping down doors).

  5. says

    Letting myself get too hungry is what caused a lot of my binge eating in the past, so I try not to let myself get too hungry. I turn into a total beast when I’m hungry and will eat a box of cereal before I realize what I’m doing… so yeah, I relate!

  6. says

    HI!! I just wanted to let you know that I do what you think about doing.. and it really helps! You should really follow your own advise! So I was also thinking that what you reached for was a lot of carbs.. maybe your not eating enough carbs in your meals and thus when you get these emergency hunger you reach for those types of foods because that is what your brain is telling you! I went through this for a long time in my life and now I am realizing that I needed more carbs through out my meals!

    • says

      Thanks Elizabeth, I definitely eat enough carbs (more then enough sometimes). I think I reach for those foods because they are quick, easy and delicious. Easy carbs give me a rush!

  7. says

    After a long afternoon with no time for a snack, I often feel like I am starving/lightheaded. Sometimes I don’t know how much of it is mental and how much is physical. I think I would be a very bad Survivor contestant…

  8. says

    ooh boy am I on the same page as you! And when I DO get hungry, I have this little voice that says “you are hungry, you deserve to eat like this instant.” I get SO cranky when I am hungry and can’t eat. and even more cranky when I can’t eat WHAT I WANT!

  9. Christy says

    You are so not alone in this. I get exactly the same way. I think from years of starving myself, I now fear that feeling of hunger. It acts as a trigger and it’s hard for me to figure out what I really want to eat. I am always thinking about what I should eat, not what I really want to eat. Leaving me unsatisfied. You’d think I’s learn already right?! And I would also make a horrible Survivor contestant. Too grouchy! haha

  10. says

    I’m absolutely an Emergency Eater sometimes. If I don’t snack and eat small meals throughout the day, I’ll come home and tear through our kitchen like the Apocalypse is coming.

    This post was great! It really exemplified the importance of how eating more (not less) can help you to eat less (not more) later in the day.

  11. says

    Oh I totally know what you mean…like, I HATE being hungry but I think that ultimately, if you’re trying to lose fat, or “those last 10 lbs,” hunger is going to be part of the game and I don’t handle it well, hence why I haven’t been able to keep those 10 lbs off. That hunger feeling SHOULD be telling me that my dieting is working but instead it’s like “something is very wrong, FIX this asap!!”

  12. says

    yes I have the same problem. It’s not a pretty sight when I don’t eat. That’s why lately, I’m trying not to let myself get that hungry! It’s hard being so busy and trying not to overeat, but keeping that in mind is helpful already

  13. says

    YES! I totally have “Hunger Emergency.” But for me it can turn into a blood sugar issue: if I wait too long and the hunger emergency kicks in, I get shaky, my brain gets foggy and I can’t make decisions. It can get ugly too, like super Cranky Pants!

  14. says

    oh, i’m totally that way! i get anxious & panicky when i start to get hungry. on good days i’ll take a few breaths and remember that food will always be there. on bad days i attack the vegetable drawer. are handfuls of carrots & raw cauliflower going to make me fat? no, but it isn’t the most desirable behavior, either. it’s still binging, just binging on healthy foods. it would be much more peaceful, satiating, and nourishing to sit down with a meal and enjoy it! even if i eat the exact same foods as i munch, standing infront of the fridge, a meal is so much better!

  15. says

    When I get that hungry, it kind of just takes over my thoughts, though I try not to just go binge, because I know that will just make me painfully bloated later. So I try to tell myself, just 10 more minutes so I can find something filling but not disgusting. I will also try to drink water, of course. It’s been working so far…

  16. says

    I have the same problem. If I get too hungry, I go hog wild and scarf down too much food while I’m preparing my meal. Then I’m not even hungry for my meal, but I eat it anyway.

    I wonder if I’ll ever learn.

  17. Christin says

    My husband and I used to have a Sunday morning tradition where we went out to breakfast…Oh Em Gee do you have any idea how many useless sunday morning arguements my husband and I had waiting for stupid breakfast at the stupid restaurant while waiting in stupid line before we realized we were only in a fight because we were hungry? Yeah we make Sunday breakfast at home now…MUCH happier :)

  18. says

    I love your new header
    And is it bad that I’ve thought about applying to Survivor because it would be a great way to get into shape? Nothing says muscles like a spoonful of rice each day and catching your own pig.

    • says

      I feel like I already told you this… I full on made a video to send in before I moved to MD and it ended up being pushed aside for life and stuff. I really want to do it though! Even though I’d be kicked off on the first week because I’d be “unpleasant” without food.

  19. says

    That photo. There are no words. I can’t wait to show it to my husband when he gets home.

    No one wants to be near me when I’m truly hungry. I turn into something like the incredible hulk, except I’m too weak to rip my shirt, I’m just angry.

  20. Katherine says

    I have the same problem! I absolutely panic when I feel hungry because I’m afraid of losing control over what I eat (I realize that’s not healthy). I also carry snacks in my purse all the time.

  21. says

    This is a really powerful realization, Monica. I’ve been there to some degree – I was never in a binge/restrict cycle (it was more of a … restrict/restrict cycle, ha) but when I started recovery it was a struggle to get out of this mindset. I didn’t even realize I was doing it and it was a delicate process to move away from that AND to not leap back into my old habits.

    So now is the hard part – bridging the gap between that insight and putting it into practice!

  22. says

    When I’m hungry I can be SUPER crabby. Since I started eating five times a day (3 meals, 2 snacks) I rarely feel hungry but if I skip an eating time/ don’t eat enough I find myself feeling ravenous. The thing is that I never just run to grab the first thing I see, instead I think and think about what would be good and end up with a huge craving for something unhealthy to the point that nothing else will satisfy my hunger. I never crave healthy things! So for me, avoiding that hungry feeling is crucial to promoting my healthy habits right now and working on finding healthy alternatives to my hunger cravings is my next step. 😉


  23. says

    Well, when I’m REALLY hungry I can be a real bitch. I feel for my hubby.

    However, no matter how hungry I am, I SCARF down my food. It’s a serious problem! I have 2 younger brothers and I think this reaction comes from fighting them for food when I growing up (though, let me reassure you NONE of grew up starving). I am try to work on eating slower…it’s a constant battle.

  24. Katheryn says

    I’m the same way. It’s scary how much food I can put away in 1/2 an hour if I’ve let myself go to long. Plus, if I’ve let myself go to long I don’t really want good healthy good. I crave the junk!

  25. says

    I think a ton of people are like this, especially if you work all day and then get home and are hungry, but still need to make dinner. I definitely end up snacking a lot right when I get home and it’s worse if I don’t know what I’m going to make for dinner. Then I’ll snack and think about what to make. Then keep snacking as I make it. 😉

  26. Michele says

    Sometimes, I think I’m so “afraid” of being hungry later on, I overeat. Like, if I know I have a busy afternoon at work and won’t get a snack for a few hours, I’ll eat a bigger lunch to compensate. This is nuts.

  27. says

    Like you I also have a history with binge/restriction. I call my hunger fits, “being in a primal state of hunger.” They are just like your hunger emergencies! I find that now that I actually allow myself to eat a good breakfast and I focus on healthy, filling foods all day long I am much less likely to get that way in the first place. Reading healthy eating blogs has really helped me with that. I like your saying, “hunger is not an emergency”. repeating that will help me make time to cook a good meal when I just want to come home and eat everything in the cabinets.

  28. alicia says

    i think hunger just takes getting used to. i had the same problem for a long time, but now i eat just 3 meals a day (i know some people say you should snack or whatever, but after so many years of thinking about food ALL THE TIME, it’s nice to only think about it 3 times a day) and usually every meal lasts me about 5 hours. then i get prreeetttyyy hungry but i’m used to getting that hungry, and i know that a good, filling meal is coming up, so i don’t raid the refrigerator beforehand.

  29. says


    My boyfriend does an impression of me when I’m hungry that literally involves claws fangs and hissing. And it’s kind of true. I also think it’s from too much time dieting, not healthy dieting, scary dieting. I’m glad to be on the other side, but sometimes I definitely have to say very consciously to myself, “hey, you’re hungry. It’s not an emergency.”

  30. says

    You couldn’t been describing me in this post. From the hunger maniac to the south beach bar/300 calories lunch after runs. It awes me how I once lost so much weight – I must have been starving at times! And now I can’t do it. I’m just petrified of getting that shaky/weak/low blood sugar hunger that I am constantly eating to avoid it!

  31. says

    Wow this post and the comments have been so candid and kind. Thanks for this post Monica.

    I was very overweight about five years ago. I was an emotional eater who chose food as a way of coping with an abusive, alcoholic stepfather as a pre teen and teenage years when I lived at home. When I moved away for school, I still overate. It was how I coped with insecurities although that did no good. My weight loss journey was long. I weighed 230 at my highest, size 22. I lost 90 pounds over the span of two years after moving out and have kept it off. Unfortunately, my eating habits were very strict and I was not eating enough to fuel a workout while I was losing the weight.

    I would severely restrict myself from eating anything but special K cereal, fat free yogurt, and the ‘calorie free’ butter sprays…and other food like that, too.
    I have made peace with food. I’m free of the disordered thinking and it’s so liberating but it takes time. I’m still taking day by day :)

    We all are in this together afterall. I’m happy that so many people will talk openly about these things, it’s important.

  32. Angie says

    THANK YOU for writing about this topic. I especially relate to this section:

    “My binge/restrict past still has a little part of me in emergency mode when I’m hungry (thus the reason I can’t truly go on a ‘diet’). When I get hungry I get crazy and I’m totally blaming it on all those years of nothing but a South Beach Bar after a 6 miler followed by a strict 300 calorie lunch.

    But, I don’t feed myself like that anymore. Now I eat full meals and healthy fat and fro-yo and anything else I want. I don’t need to grab the first food I see when I’m hungry. ”

    AMEN. I read this post yesterday and realized this morning that I haven’t been fueling properly b/c I’ve been so busy for the past couple of days. When the hungry emergency emerged this morning, I knew I was on the verge of a binge. I took some deep breaths, ate a lot and listened to cravings, but refrained from a binge. I am still scared that my history will lead me to a binge later today, but I’m remembering that I don’t have to do that anymore. I can correct my under-fueling with smart choices today. Yes, I am eating more today. That doesn’t mean I have to restrict tonight or have a complete emotional meltdown b/c I’m human and get hungry. So many thanks to you for being so honest and real.

  33. Lorin says

    What’s hard for me with eating multiple times a day (i.e. 5 small “meals”) is that I end up eating more food than I should. I tend to graze and eat more food than I need and feel unsatisfied. I am trying to find a balance with that, I graze a lot when I am bored or at night.

  34. says

    I definitely can’t stand feeling hungry. I think it’s because it’s painful! I don’t get that slightly uncomfortable, growling feeling. I get painful stabs instead. I feel completely full and satisfied until all of a sudden, I’m not anymore. I’m trying to really tune into my body, but so far, I haven’t been too sucessful.

  35. Jen says

    This is ME. I was trying to decide if it was from years of starving myself or if I’m just a wimp about being hungry. I get really anxious when hungry and can’t focus, not because I’m starved for nutrients, but because all I can think about is how I’m going to eat, what I’m going to eat, when I’m going to eat, etc. I start planning a binge and then think about ways to thwart the binge and then back and forth, back and forth.

    I tried eating more often, but then I found I was never hungry and that made me anxious too!

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